Sound Transit rushing to complete permits in time for light-rail opening
With not quite 48 hours left until the grand opening, Sound Transit has yet to secure final permits for elevators and escalators in the new Link light-rail line.
Seattle Times transportation reporter
With not quite 48 hours left until the grand opening, Sound Transit has yet to secure final permits for all the elevators and escalators in the new Link light-rail line.
State inspectors have been on site all week, and remain at some of the stations this morning.
"Half of them are done and we're in the process of issuing the operating permit," said Elaine Fischer, spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor and Industries, which needs to sign off on 17 new elevators and escalators. "The other half are in progress, and we fully expect them all to be done and have their operating permits issued, some by the end of today, or by noon tomorrow."
Construction began five years ago on the new 14-mile, $2.3 billion corridor from downtown Seattle to Tukwila, to open to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Among other tasks, Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl has to sign a final "certificate of occupancy" for the entire system, which is forwarded to state overseers. "We are still on track to have everything open. Not everything is signed off yet, but still moving as expected," she said in a Wednesday e-mail to The Seattle Times.
Final signoff could happen later today or early Friday, said transit spokesman Bruce Gray.
Elevators and escalators are critical to three new train stops: Beacon Hill Station, where four high-speed elevators take people 160 feet down to the boarding platform underground; the elevated Mount Baker Station near Franklin High School; and Tukwila International Boulevard Station, where riders board 51 feet above the park-and-ride lot.
Paperwork is done for Mt. Baker, and inspections are nearly finished at the other two, Fischer said.
It's not unusual for elevators to be approved as a final step in construction projects.
Gray likened the last-minute rush to the reopening of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel in 2007, when fire-suppression and alarm systems were still being tested at the end of a two-year retrofit. But an electronic glitch in a control center caused a shutdown several weeks later.
In theory, the trains could skip some stations this weekend if individual components aren't approved yet.
Gray said this morning they will all be ready. "At this point, I'm more concerned about my neglected tomatoes, than the agency opening the line on Saturday."
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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